Time is typically something that people cannot seem to get enough of in today’s day and age. Obligations and responsibilities seem to just pile up to the point where you can feel overwhelmed. In the digital era more and more things are added to the plate of each individual. With more tools at your disposal more is expected of you.
Like most challenges experienced by humans, adapting is possible and through focusing on your productivity you can become more capable of handling more work. While you cannot change the amount of time you are given in a day, you can change the way in which you get work done and utilize your time.
Below is a detailed look at productivity, how it is measured, why it’s important to track, as well as tips to increase your productivity. You are not born knowing how to be productive and hopefully, you will learn something useful that you can implement into your busy day.
What is productivity?
The term productivity has many definitions and depends on the context it is being utilized in. If you talk to biologists productivity some would refer to increase of biomass. If you were to talk to an economist they would refer to productivity as the amount of output produced per unit of input.
The more conventional and personally relevant form of productivity refers to how well your time is being utilized while you are working. Being productive with your time is synonymous with using your time wisely.
How is productivity measured?
Productivity can be a difficult attribute to measure. Tasks completed, the number of items done, and the amount of time working are easy measurements that can be taken to assess your day. While insightful, no single measure is truly able to directly measure productivity. This is because productivity is based on multiple variables.
Productivity encompasses the amount of time used and compares it to the amount of work that was done. The more work that was done in a smaller amount of time, the more productive you were with your time.
The best way to measure your productivity is to keep track of the amount of time you are actively working and the number of tasks you were able to complete on that given day. A simple way to get an easy to compare number between days is to take the number of tasks completed and divide it by the number of minutes spent working. It is important to note this number does not give any information on the difficulty or time-consuming aspects of different tasks. While the number by itself doesn’t tell you much, tracking it over time can give you insight into your productivity.
Why it's important to keep track of productivity?
Keeping track of your productivity is important because it allows you to experiment and find out what productivity methods work best for you. If you think of your productivity as a science experiment, the things you change in your day are the independent variable and the change in your productivity is the dependent variable.
The inverse can also be true where you can single out specific items that may be hindering your productivity. One possible cause could be that on a certain day of the week your workspace is especially noisy and you notice a drop in productivity. This observation could allow you to adapt and bring noise-canceling headphones on that day to remove the distraction.
Keeping track of your productivity can also motivate you to be as productive as possible. Constantly tracking habits over time can reinforce them and with productivity, it can be easy to lose steam. Keeping track gives yourself a little reminder to be productive and efficient with your time.
Ways to increase your productivity
With an effective means of tracking productivity, you can begin your experimentation to determine the best productivity methodology for you and your work style. Typically not all methods of increasing productivity will yield results. Testing them out yourself and observing changes in your productivity is a great way to determine the best tips for you.
Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do for your productivity. Let’s say that you are wanting to run a marathon in three months’ time. Knowing this deadline you are able to plan ahead and allocate your time effectively where you are utilizing your time to the fullest. You can start MitoQ 90 days out to support your mitochondrial health, begin endurance training, and even have practice runs. If you were not to plan out your preparation, you are more likely to be less productive and more likely to be all over the place with your training schedule.
In the workplace planning ahead is about knowing when deadlines are and planning accordingly. Without sufficient planning, it can be difficult to be productive as deadlines seemingly come out of thin air and you must work long hours to get them done. While burning the midnight oil may seem productive, most people are better off working through normal hours when they are the most awake and alert.
Utilize work cycles
Work cycles are a great way to improve your overall productivity on a given day. A work cycle consists of designated work periods which are followed by timed break periods. While taking breaks may seem counterintuitive to productivity, in many cases they are beneficial because they avoid mental fatigue and can allow people to stay focused and energized throughout the workday.
The most popular work cycle is the Pomodoro method. The Pomodoro technique consists of 25-30 minute work cycles followed by a short five-minute break. After the completion of four work periods, you are allocated a longer break.
The usefulness of Pomodoro comes from its strict rules, simplicity, and implementation of breaks. During the work phase, you are only allowed to work. If you were to tell an employee that they were not able to do anything but work for eight hours straight, they would most likely not take to it very well. Because each work cycle is only 25-30 minutes long it is easier for most people to agree to a distraction-free work period. The short breaks also give an opportunity for people to relax and not become fatigued.
Having intermittent breaks is an important aspect of sustaining productivity throughout an entire day. Expecting yourself to maintain focus for eight or more hours continuously will ultimately lead to failure. While you may be able to accomplish a long period of sustained focus, the likelihood you become fatigued or burnt out greatly increases. Work cycles offer a way to extend your productive hours throughout the span of the day in a sustainable way.
Create to-do lists
To-do lists are a great organizational tool to utilize for improving your productivity. With so many tasks to complete, it can be easy to forget about one or two. Jotting down tasks as soon as they come can better enable you to ensure you are meeting expectations and getting everything you need done.
In addition to staying on track, a to-do list offers a great way to measure your productivity. Breaking to do lists into specified tasks can allow you to track the number of tasks completed in a given amount of time.
Eliminate redundancies and increase efficiency
A great productivity hack that can increase your time to get work done is to eliminate redundancies. In the workplace, redundancies encompass the tasks that are repetitive in nature. By automating these repetitive tasks or making them more stream line, you gain time that you can accomplish other tasks.
A great example is to have your email footer automated where you do not need to type out your name, title, and affiliated company every time you send an email. Creating more efficient workflows and reducing redundancies is a great way to improve your overal productivity.
Take care of your health
Productivity and your health have a close interconnected relationship. When you are healthy you are more likely to be productive and if you are unwell you are more likely to be less productive.
This interplay illustrates the importance of taking care of your body so it can perform at its very best. Exercising, eating healthy, taking energy supplements, and living a healthy lifestyle is a great way you can support your productivity goals.
In summary, productivity is a measure of the amount of things you can accomplish in a given amount of time. Staying up longer and working long hours is not necessarily the best method for increasing productivity. Being smart with your time and improving the way in which you get work done is a better and more sustainable approach.
By measuring the number of things you accomplish and comparing it to the time it took you, you can get a good picture of your productivity. With this measure you can perfect your workflows to get the absolute most out of your day.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.